Now that Axel knows how to count to 10, this week he and I have been working a lot on counting objects. You know, 1:1 correspondence stuff.
Let me preface this by saying that Axel does not have any issue at all with physical HUMAN touch. We know he doesn't like to touch things like playdough, which makes him gag, but he is fine with people touching him. Keep reading....
Axel will work for me for 25 minutes or 3. There's no telling what the variable is, really, but when he's done. HE'S DONE. He will freeze, or his eyes glaze over and he just suddenly acts like he doesn't understand a thing you're saying. Only he does, because it's an activity he's done indepedently for days in a row. What he WANTS is for me to completely leave him alone and let him do whatever he wants. All day long. No expectations to LEARN anything. That's what his whole life has been...just sitting...doing pretty much what he wants when he wants. He will do physical tasks, like making beds or folding clothes, with gusto. He loves those activities. But activities that require him to THINK? Yeah, not quite so willing.
For the past few days, when he was doing the freeze thing on me, I was sending him to the time-out spot for a minute, then calling him back to the table. Then HE, being the brilliant boy he his, made a discovery of his own. A couple of times when he was sent to the spot, he cried, and he was VERY QUICK to figure out that I wouldn't bring him back to the table until he was done crying.
What do you suppose he decided to do with that information?
Yep...cry....and cry....and cry...a rhythmic, no tears included, 100% FAKE cry.
So today I had a different plan. He was going to work weather he "froze" or not. I would hand-over-hand help him when he did the freeze, that's all. I would keep my voice happy and light while he did his thing.
Well, as soon as he realized I was going to make him work through the freeze cry he started crying because he didn't like THAT, but within a few minutes reverted to the fake cry. You know, maybe I'd stop making him do the work?
I don't think so.
We worked through the fake cry, with no response from me so then he tried a new trick.
He hung his mouth open and DROOLED all over everything! Our activity was counting fish crackers, and the paper we were moving them onto, along with all the fish, were soon covered in drool. And since I kept on working, he started crying his very mad cry, which increased the drooling. Keep in mind he was also wearing his brace, so the brace and pads on it were soon soaked.
I didn't acknowlege any of his trial and error behaviors. Not one. And he was getting REALLY mad. Imagine a two year old throwing a foot-stomping tantrum. Yep, that's what he did, except for he was banging his legs against the chair. All the grunts and whines you would hear with a toddler tantrum included.
When I gave NO reaction to this, only making my voice even HAPPIER as I continued to move his hand to do the work...oh...he was NOT a happy boy.
That's when he started gagging.
No crying, just gagging.
I *almost* caved when the gagging started.
Instead I kept my voice happy and cheerful, as I continued to hand-over-hand guide him through the excercise.
He gagged 7 or 8 times...me trying not to flinch each time... before he finally gave up his game. Mom seemed to be having FUN with this activity, maybe he'd give it a try.
He finally started talking, and signing the numbers instead of me putting his hand into the right shape, and within just a few more minutes he was doing the activity independently with very little help from me. Each thing he did independently got him the high 5's he loves, and "Whoo hoo!"s and all the other little celebratory things we know he likes.
I'm guessing we'll have to go through this routine a few more times before it's no longer an issues.
And I have another prediction to make. That we'll have regression tonight in the area of bedwetting (post to follow on that!) because whenever he makes progress in one area, he regresses in another. Something that is very common among all kids, not just those newly adopted.
Even through this was HARD for me, I'm proud of myself, because I didn't loose my patience, (I prayed LOTS all the way through it!) and we had a breakthrough. One breakthrough today means one step closer to another one. I'm even more proud of Axel. He is discovering he has a mind of his own and can make choices, something that is very new for him!